01-05-2017 2017 Miss & Mr. Coloma Jan. 7; News and Newsmakers of 2016 revisited

2017 MISS AND MR. COLOMA CONTESTANTS… pictured (from the left) are: Dustin Irerd, Brett Tutton, Zack Heater, Jenna Walter, Allison Beck, Harleigh Unger, Nikki Bryant, Camalin Normandin, Cassidy Fickett, Bailey Evans, Harrison Spaulding, Grant Kroshcel, and Jacob Sharpe. Not pictured is Hannah Strunk. The Coloma Community Or-ganization invites the public to the 2017 Miss and Mr. Coloma pageant on Saturday, January 7 at 6 p.m. at the Coloma High School. The theme is Bedazzle. Tickets purchased in advance are $20.00 each; please call Barb Stroder at 269-468-3731 or Doreen Hess at 269-468-4020. Tickets purchased at the door will be $25.00 each.


News and Newsmakers of 2016 revisited

By Angela Stair

 In these first weeks of the New Year it is an annual tradition of the Tri-City Record to recall the headline stories of the previous year.

 Following the News and Newsmakers feature, the Record will publish noteworthy stories and photos from the Press Box columns of 2016.

 Complete pages of each issue are archived at www.tricityrecord.com and on Facebook.

January

  White out conditions, once again wreak havoc on I-94 between Watervliet and Hartford.

I-94 or parking lot…Three multi-vehicle crashes on Sunday afternoon resulted in one fatality and several injuries.  Hartford Public School transported non-injured to Hartford Federated Church, American Red Cross provided assistance while troopers interviewed parties involved.

At approximately 2:00 p.m., Michigan State Police troopers from the Paw Paw Post, deputies from the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office, and officers from the Hartford Police Department responded to several traffic crashes on eastbound I-94 just west of Hartford and westbound I-94 east of Hartford.

The initial minor injury crash involved eight passenger vehicles and one semi-truck on eastbound I-94.  Drivers directly behind the crash were able to stop safely and not collide or lose control.

As traffic began to backup, approximately 1/4 of a mile west of the initial crash, two semi-trucks collided.  With high speeds for conditions, drivers following too closely, and low visibility; 42 other vehicles crashed.

The second collision involved 38 passenger vehicles and six semi-trucks.  This crash resulted in one confirmed fatality and three patients with life threatening injuries.

An additional 11 people involved in the crash were transported to local hospitals with non-life threatening injuries, including one Van Buren County deputy who was struck by a passenger vehicle while he was rendering first-aid to a subject with a broken leg.

During the same time, a 12-vehicle minor injury crash occurred on the west bound side of I-94 approximately one mile east of Hartford.  This crash involved six passenger vehicles and six semi-trucks.

The Emergency Operations Center was activated shortly after the crashes occurred.  Multiple law enforcement agencies, wrecker services, and the Michigan Department of Transportation worked to open up I-94 at approximately 8:00 p.m.

Other headlines for January

  Harford City Commissioner calls Christmas decorations “crap”.  City of Hartford swears in incumbents for 2016.

  Lakeland celebrates first baby of the New Year.  Yan Qiu Yu of Benton Harbor is the proud mother of daughter, Vanni Li.

  The North Berrien Historical Museum to host 2nd annual History Trivia Night, January 14.

  Keeler Township updating fire equipment.

  Watervliet Fire Board sparks discussion with Bainbridge Township about joining the department.

  New clerk hired for Watervliet City under Shared Service agreement.

  Ashley Sipla crowned Miss Coloma; Hunter Browne crowned Mr. Coloma.

  Smith to run for re-election on Berrien County Board of Commissioners.

  Karlee Liles crowned 2016 Miss Watervliet; Derrick Davidson and Brody Roland named Co-Mr. Watervliet 2016.

  Double homicide suspect found in Colorado; Children safe.

  Coloma City Commission rescinds recently approved parking ordinances.

  $300,000 revised Watervliet County Park grant application submitted.

  Watervliet’s Aliea Chapin named Miss Spirit of Blossomtime 2016.

  Double homicide suspect fighting extradition from Colorado: Memorial service held for two Coloma victims.

February

 Landfill responds to Michigan House Bill 4783; increasing penalties for first and second violations.

Chris Phillips, public relations and compliance representative for Landfill Management Company, owner of the Orchard Hill Sanitary Landfill has his own opinion on Representative Al Pscholka’s recently sponsored legislation called House Bill 4783.

Approved by the House last week and now headed to the Senate, the bill increases penalties under Michigan’s waste management laws for first and second violations to $20,000 and $40,000 each day, up from $10,000 and $25,000 respectively.

Over the past year or so Pscholka has held some town hall meetings, whereby allowing the public to voice complaints about the odor coming from the landfill.  Landfill representatives have been present at those meetings and have worked with both Pscholka and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to address the odor issues.

Following the statement by Pscholka’s office regarding the approval of the House Bill, Phillips commented, “As Representative Pscholka knows, Orchard Hill Sanitary Landfill has an outstanding record of compliance with state waste management laws.  Since 2008, the Michigan DEQ has conducted 36 evaluations of the landfill and found it to be in compliance every time but one.”

Phillips continued, “It is disappointing his bill, House Bill 4783, proposes massive increases in fines on landfills that are striving to be good neighbors and provide a valuable service to their communities.  We remain committed to working with our neighbors and the DEQ to continually improve our operations.”

Firing back, Pscholka called their statement misleading and requested that corrections be made.  The statement from a Lansing based public relations firm claimed that Orchard Hill landfill had just one violation since 2008.  Representative Pscholka said this claim was erroneous.

“Pardon the pun, but this is absolute garbage,” said Representative Pscholka.  “The operators of the Orchard Hill landfill and their Lansing-based PR firm know that you don’t receive a fine after a single citation.  Orchard Hill received multiple citations which resulted in a settlement of $4,500.00.  That’s the record and it has been out in the media for over a year.  Let’s get the record corrected and deal with the facts.

“Further, hundreds of complaints have been filed with the DEQ over the last three years, hundreds.  Fancy words from PR firms who don’t live in Coloma and Watervliet don’t change the facts. This is simply an attempt to play politics with an important environmental issue.  Our environmental laws should be respected, modern, and this bill merely updates fines that are 29 years old.”

Orchard Hill Landfill stands by the statement of its public relations and compliance representative, Chris Phillips, “We are proud of our outstanding overall record of compliance with state waste management laws.”

Other headlines for February

  APL Logistics pullout leaves Hagar’s DiMaggio surprised and in shock: “This news is really very unfortunate”.

  Hartford teacher placed on paid administrative leave for alleged incident accusing the teacher of slapping a male 9th grade student in the face.

  Hartford City Manager Akinwale names Lt. Tressa Beltran Interim Chief of Police.

 2016 Miss Hartford is Ally Sinclair.

 Valentine’s Day evokes different but special memories for three local couples.

  Notorious east Hartford intersection claims victim after victim; 58 accidents in 10 years. (Intersection of Red Arrow Highway and County Road 681)

  Public invitation (comments for ambulance service) proves unsuccessful once again at Hartford City/Township.

  Watervliet School Board hears Phase II Bond Project Plan.

  Keeler Township receives bike path grant.

  Public invited to I&M solar facility open house February 23 at Watervliet Fire Station.

  Multiple meetings at Bainbridge Township regarding fire coverage.

  Viel gets 10-15 years in prison for his role in drug related death in Hagar Township.

  Hartford First Graders national contenders in Sumdog Math Competition.

  Marge and Pete Mannino celebrate another Valentine’s Day as Tri-City Record Valentine Letter winner.

  Coloma approves fire board budget with changes.

  Benton Harbor man charged with death of 8-month-old infant in Coloma.  In March mom arrested as accessory in baby’s death.

  Hartford Township takes lead in retaining Medic 1 Ambulance.

  Hartford schools & Pokagon Band partner to save native language.

  PK Development plans $1 million rehab for Hartford’s South Center Street Apartments.

  Two new furnaces on order for Watervliet Township.

March

 Fire chief replacement is topic of North Berrien Fire Rescue meeting to discuss issues with the public.  Consultant eyed to present proposals for future needs.

The leadership of Hagar Township, Coloma Charter Township, and the City of Coloma met on Monday, March 21 to inform the public about what is going on with the North Berrien Fire Department since the departure of its chief at the end of 2015.

Mayor Jim Polashak and Clerk Martha Darling represented the City of Coloma; Supervisor Ken Parrigin and Clerk Sandy Kraemer represented Coloma Charter Township; and Supervisor Izzy DiMaggio represented Hagar Township.

Other local leadership in attendance were Jim Fulton, Matt Moser, Lance Becht, and Bryan Duffield from Coloma Charter Township; Linda Freitag from the City of Coloma and Deb Kavanaugh and Andy Ulleg from Hagar Township.

Polashak led the meeting by stating that the purpose was to discuss the situation of the North Berrien Fire Department and so that everyone was hearing the same thing and when discussing it at the local levels could do so by comparing apples to apples.

The situation Polashak is referring to is regarding the absence of a fire chief.  Former Chief Bob Ruff said the North Berrien Fire Board ended their relationship December 31, 2015.

Since that time, two of the captains have been taking on extra responsibilities to handle the day-to-day operations of the department.  It did not take long for the questions to be asked regarding the department and the need – Do they need a full-time chief? – Could a part-time chief be enough?

Polashak, DiMaggio, and Parrigin determined through meetings, that they liked the idea of bringing in a consultant that could do a professional study.  They would hope through that study, the consultant could advise them on what the department needs are and what would be best for all the communities involved.

DiMaggio contacted the Michigan Township Association, the Michigan Municipal League, and Williams & Works for guidance in a consultant.  He said they got it down to three, but one firm really stood out, Lewis G. Bender and Jeffrey Swanson.

In their proposal it states that they will spend approximately two and a half days on site gathering data through interviews, observations, and ongoing research.  DiMaggio said they are expected to come at the beginning of May with the results coming at the beginning of June.

The cost of their study is $9.500.00 and covers travel, on-site and off-site time and the provision of four hard copies and an emailed copy of the final report.  Polashak said that the funding for the study will come from the three municipalities and not from the fire department budget.  DiMaggio said Hagar Township has approved funding their portion and Coloma Charter Township and the City of Coloma are expected to at their March meetings.

Other headlines for March

  Bainbridge paying more for fire protection than Coloma and Watervliet, Board told; operating own fire department is option.

  Former Watervliet Mayor Bob Flaherty (96) passed away last week.

 Coloma Schools to improve web access.

  Hartford schools hires contractor for bond work.

  Watervliet Township approves library millage request for August ballot.

  Coloma prepares for St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

  Hartford Commission calls to keep status quo on Medic 1 contract question.

  Coloma Township approves 3-year agreement with Police Chief Jason Roe.

  Primary Election is Tuesday; features fire & police millage renewals for Watervliet City. 

  Watervliet City voters renew Police and Fire Millages; Michigan chooses Trump and Sanders.

  Coloma Watervliet Area Chamber of Commerce water for Flint collection; clean water from the Tri-Cities.

  Solar Generation Facility coming to Watervliet.

  Representative Pscholka hosts Town Hall at North Berrien Senior Center.

  Medic 1 Ambulance slow in Hartford, Commissioner says.

  Watervliet High School named 2015 Academic State Champions; bids awarded for Phase II construction

  Mystery Bunny appears at Tri-City Area Easter Egg hunts.

  Coloma Commission split on hiring consultant for fire chief recommendations; in the end it was approved by a 3-2 vote.

  Watervliet July 4th celebration planning underway.

  Hartford woman stabbed and beaten in her apartment.

  Ashley Sipla of Coloma was crowned Miss Blossomtime 2016.

  All three young men from the community of Hartford made the Top 10 at the Mr. Blossomtime Contest.

  Watervliet manager seeks Commission direction on funding of skate park repairs and 4th of July celebration.

  Hagar Township will not contract additional police any time soon due to $627,000 cost.

  To the South Pole and back in 180 days.

April

  Bainbridge fire protection will not be from Watervliet or North Berrien; Township signs annual contracts with Sister Lakes and Benton Township.

For months the fire protection of Bainbridge Township has been a hot topic.  As the time to renew contracts approached for the Townships’ fiscal year ending March 31, the Township received a letter from the Watervliet Fire Board stating they wanted to re-negotiate their contract, with a substantial increase; what would amount to two mills.

Township Supervisor Jerry Jollay explained that Bainbridge Township has always been divided into four quadrants for fire protection. The southeast quadrant has been under the protection of the Sister Lakes Fire Department, the southwest under the protection of the Benton Township Fire Department.  The northeast and northwest quadrants under the protection of Watervliet Fire Department and/or North Berrien Fire Rescue over the years.

Minutes from all the special meetings that were held with Watervliet Fire Board showed that the negotiations went on for some time and Bainbridge felt they were getting nowhere.  They approached the North Berrien Fire Board about negotiating terms for them to cover part of the Township.

The Township was surprised to receive a quote from North Berrien similar to Watervliet Fire Department, requesting two mills as payment.  The Bainbridge board held another meeting on March 17 and decided to contact Keeler, Sister Lakes and Benton Township Fire Departments to see if they would be interested in discussing the taking over of additional or a portion of the Township now covered by Watervliet.

They also directed the Supervisor to prepare a letter to Watervliet Joint Fire Board denying their proposal dated March 2.  Keeler did not respond to the letter, but both Benton Township Fire Department and Sister Lakes Fire Department expressed their interest in the opportunity.

Another special meeting was held with Chief Dan Durham of the Benton Township Fire Department and Jim Scholz, President of the Sister Lakes Fire Department where agreements were worked out for Bainbridge coverage.

Supervisor Jollay said the contracts are for one year and will be paid at the equivalent of 1-mill.  There will be no billing to residents for a fire run.  In the meantime, the Planning Commission will continue looking for a more permanent solution to the fire coverage problem.

Other headlines for April

  Hagar Beach Café Opens.

  Watervliet City OKs funds for festival.

  Coloma adopts resolution to support Paw Paw River Trail.

  Coloma Public Library was started by Self Culture Club in 1904; A history of the Library.

  Many local elected officials facing term expiration; deadline for citizens to file for public office is April 19.  Local elected officials’ wages range from $45.00 per meeting to $20,500 annually.

  New downtown Watervliet plan includes public and commercial improvements; Open house to discuss Watervliet downtown development plan with citizens is Saturday, April 16, at the fire hall.

  Keeler Township meeting visited by candidates for election; Seniors want services back.

  Hartford City Council approves budget for fire station repairs; Van Buren County courts implement new technology solutions.

  Coloma Township sets standards and appointments for year; Police Chief reports 215 investigations in February; Supervisor says citizens’ group is planning Paw Paw River clean up.

  Radio personality killed by husband in murder-suicide; resigned fire chief investigated for embezzlement.

  Medic 1 working with the Fire Department to decrease accidents, Hartford Township board told; fire station renovations underway.

  Top 10 CHS seniors named; Ten students win highest scholastic honors in Senior Class at Coloma High School.

  Coloma schools improving programs and technology.

  Pokagon Band makes more than $81 million in additional economic investments in 2015.

  Watervliet Township Board approves ballot wording for upcoming millage renewals.

  Bid for Coloma street project approved by Coloma City Commission.

May

 Former Keeler Township fire chief and wife charged with embezzlement; June court dates set.

Van Buren County Prosecutor Michael Bedford has confirmed that former Keeler Township Fire Chief Matt Quinn and his wife, Megan Quinn have both been charged with the embezzlement of funds from a non-profit organization and illegal use of a financial transaction device.

Quinn resigned as chief recently following an investigation by the Michigan State Police.  The Quinns turned themselves in and have been arraigned.  The funds in question are said to have been taken from the Keeler Emergency Services Support Association.  Matt Quinn was connected to the association as the Fire Chief while his wife Megan served as treasurer/secretary.

The State Police told WWMT News out of Kalamazoo that the members of the association were the first to notice that money would go missing and then random deposits were made into the account when there should not have been any income.

The Quinns are accused of stealing nearly $4,000 from the non-profit fund intended to help fire fighters in times of need and the community’s fire department with purchases that are not legally able to be paid for by the township’s general fund.  Police state that the funds taken out of the account were for personal items, cash withdrawals, etc.

The two counts that the Quinns are charged with are felonies.  Embezzlement from a non-profit organization carries up to 10 years’ imprisonment; unlawful use of a financial transaction device carries up to four years’ imprisonment.  Their next court dates are scheduled for June 6 and June 9.

Other headlines for May

  Public hearings scheduled for continued restoration of Paw Paw Lake.

  Blossomtime week is upon us:  parade is Saturday.

  Coloma Township supports community celebrations with financial donations and the Paw Paw River cleanup project.

  Law Enforcement Memorial Day Service to be held Friday, May 13.

  Watervliet High School graduate returns home to autograph her new book.

  Hartford City Council passes Prospect Street and Paw Paw Trail resolutions.

  Hartford float wins top Blossomtime Parade award for second year.  Sun shines on Grand Floral Parade and on Tri-City entries.

  Watervliet Mayor calls for more commission involvement; adds second monthly meeting to calendar.

  Bainbridge to host public meeting with road commission to discuss Territorial Road repair problems.

  Hagar Township to meet with Coloma City and Township to discuss fire protection consultant findings.

  Kelsey Boven named “Best Mom” for 2016.

  Proposed training clinic for needy gets mixed reviews.  Healthcare clinic in Hartford requests special use permit to build health outreach facility on Hart Street.

  Top academic senior class members of Hartford and Watervliet high schools.  Hartford High School has ten top students and Watervliet High School has twelve top students.

  Watervliet Township Board sets public hearings for Lake Cleanup Assessment.

  It is time to register for the Hartford Lions Club 38th Annual Strawberry Run!

  Coloma Township approves millage renewal requests for August ballot.

  Lakeland Hospital Watervliet – Positively transforming the health of those we serve.

  Coloma spends water tower funds for “tool car”.

  July deadlines for City Candidate Election filings.

  Lane Car Show is Saturday with special parking lots.

  Watervliet Commission to pay election fines.

  Hartford nixes health clinic expansion.

  Tri-City track stars shine at regional meet.

  Welcome to the summer in the Tri-Cities Issue with special features inside.

  Summer hometown activities for the whole family.

June

  North Berrien Fire Rescue needs full-time chief; study report cites poor leadership, identity, gossip, and low morale as issues.

The findings of a North Berrien Fire Department organizational structure and function study were presented by professionals Lewis G. Bender and Jeffrey Swanson at a joint meeting of the municipalities that are part of the department.

Coloma Mayor Jim Polashak, Hagar Township Supervisor Izzy DiMaggio, and Coloma Charter Township Supervisor Ken Parrigin led the meeting held at the North Berrien Senior Center, June 7.

The purpose of the study was to review and observe all facets of the North Berrien Fire Department and for Swanson and Bender to make suggestions related to the structure of the organization.

They reviewed the top observations at the meeting that was attended by approximately 40 people.  At the top of all their observations and their suggestions was the main focus of the study, the North Berrien Fire Department needs a full-time fire chief.

“This is just the reality,” Bender said as he began the presentation adding, “I don’t see how a part-time chief could get this amount of work done.”

Besides the recommendation for the full-time fire chief, the top observation of the study was that without question, the board members, officers and firefighters of the department were found to be very dedicated to their fellow citizens and to the communities.

Secondly it was observed that the lack of consistent leadership is negatively impacting the department.  They noted that in the past several years there has been a revolving door of leadership on the board and in the position of fire chief.  This lack of consistent leadership and the variance between the last two chiefs has been great.

A continuation of the lack of identity as a fire district remains in question.  Bender said that many in the process of being interviewed noted that there is still an “us vs. them” or Station 1 vs. Station 2 attitudes since the merger of Coloma and Hagar into one department.

The lack of consistent training was noted as one of the top observations.  Bender said that the fire personnel training has declined in the past several months and needs to be reinvigorated soon.  In addition a commercial retail and rental inspections program needs to be put in place.

Bender recommended that the fire board be restructured to include the supervisors of the two townships and the mayor.  He does not recommend this as a permanent assignment, but rather as a temporary one until this transition period is over, a fire chief is selected, and the department is back on track again.

As a wrap up to the presentation Bender said that he and Swanson both agreed that an interim chief should be hired in the meantime.

Bender noted that the suggestion is not meant to be disparaging to the current captains or lieutenants.  He suggested that the training get upgraded as soon as possible and that to help close the gap between Station 1 and 2 the command officers from each of those stations should rotate so that they are exposed to all parts of the department.  Bender said, “They need to think like a district and act like a district.”

Coloma City, Coloma Township and Hagar Township all agreed that they would not make any decisions at their June meetings, but would present the information for comments.

Other headlines for June

  Coloma, Hartford, & Watervliet seniors graduate.  Courtney Kroschel presented the Coloma High School Green and Gold Award.

  Brody Roland & Aliea Chapin named Outstanding Seniors at Watervliet High School.

  High Honors Graduate Olivia Scherer of Hartford High School told her classmate, “Don’t forget to love your life; It’s the only one you have.  Make it count, step high, step proud, step greatly.”

  I&M breaks ground on solar power plant to be built in Watervliet Township.

  Paw Paw Lake owners have tax & water quality concerns.

  Hartford Strawberry Festival Fun Friday & Saturday.

  The Tri-Cities remembers its heroes on Memorial Day.

  House approves bipartisan Good Samaritan expansion; Reps. Pscholka, Singh hope for quick senate consideration.

  Van Buren County continues Differently Abled Program with special 4-H show at the youth fair, July 22.

  Hartford Township puts County-Wide Road Millage renewal on August 2 Ballot.

  Watervliet HS students earn many honors with woodworking projects.

  Random drug testing for student athletes under discussion by Watervliet Board of Education; Six retirees honored with Golden Apples; Phase 2 construction on schedule.

  Watervliet’s own Travis Bolin drafted by Texas Rangers.

  Bainbridge moves forward with Special Assessment District for Pipestone Lake road improvements; WWII Monument Stone completed, to be dedicated.

  Big Al’s Chicago Hot Dogs welcomed by Coloma Watervliet Chamber of Commerce with ribbon cutting.

  RNRC schedules a town hall meeting June 23 to discuss Palisades Nuclear Plant.

  Keeler Township approves Senior Services millage for November ballot

  Lake Michigan College presents new millage proposal to Coloma City Commission.

  Watervliet City Commission approves Pride Care Ambulance contract renewal; ordinance enforcement efforts are increased; new treasurer hired.

  Hagar reacts to report on fire department leadership issues, DiMaggio says, “The us against them has got to stop.”

  Strawberries anyone?  Hartford Strawberry Festival a grand success.

  Coloma and Watervliet riverfront communities will advance cleanup funds to speed up project.  Paw Paw River Clearing Grant subject of Watervliet Township Board meeting.

  Huge line up of events set for Watervliet Independence Celebration.  Family fun headliners include 4×4 Mud Run, car show, fireworks, bands, parade, Kids Zone, Ping Pong Ball Drop and more!

  John Yetzke “Mr. Fix It” named “Top Pop”.

   Millburg community comes together, celebrates history.

  Watervliet Schools Superintendent Kevin Schooley named Parade Grand Marshal; Independence celebration is Saturday & Sunday.

  Summer not slowing down activity at Coloma schools; Board hears preliminary plans for next school year.

  Coloma extends agreement with police by three years; Resident gets okay to keep chickens in the city.

Watervliet City Commission approves 2016-2017 budget; includes school police officer and skate park repair funds.

  Commissioner proposes City of Hartford smoking ban.

  Coloma and Watervliet townships consider assisting with Paw Paw Lake cleanup costs.

July

  Berrien County Courthouse shooting results in deaths of two bailiffs; two others wounded, gunman killed.

“Our hearts are torn apart, they were my friends, they were my colleagues, it is a sad day,” stated Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey.

Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey had to do the unthinkable Monday afternoon as he told the story of how two public servants, friends and colleagues of his, lost their lives to a Courthouse shooter.  Bailey held three press conferences yesterday in an attempt to keep people as informed as he could as the day unfolded.  He also held another one this morning, July 14.

At about 2:25 p.m., Monday, July11, there was a disturbance at the Berrien County Courthouse on the third floor.  Bailey said that the subject, who was an inmate at the Berrien County Jail, was being removed from a holding cell at the courthouse when a fight occurred between the subject and one of the sheriff’s deputies.

Bailey said that the inmate disarmed the deputy and used that gun to shoot the deputy, two court bailiffs, and a civilian.  The deputy is currently at the hospital being treated and was in stable condition.  He reported that the inmate was shot and killed by two other bailiffs.  Several other officers were involved in taking the suspect down.

State Police, local law enforcement, and Sheriff’s Department detectives were questioning all of those involved and those that may have witnessed what occurred in the Courthouse.  The State Police Crime Lab came into assist with the investigation.

The two court officers are Joe Zangaro, 61, head of Courthouse Security and Ronald Kienzle, 63.  Zangaro retired from the Michigan State Police as Post Commander of the Bridgman Post.  He has worked for Berrien County since 2004.  Kienzle retired as a sergeant from the Benton Charter Township Police Department after serving in the United States Army.  He has worked for Berrien County since 2005.  Sheriff Bailey said, “They were well respected by their peers.”

The Sheriff confirmed that the inmate, Larry Darnell Gordon was handcuffed as he was moved from the holding cell, but was able to wrestle the gun away from the deputy.  The 45-year old from Coloma was in custody to face several charges.

Other headlines for July

  Van Buren County Fair opens Monday, July 18.

  Hagar Township Board recommends interim chief for North Berrien Fire Department.

  Keeler Township OKs Crooked Lakes Assessment District.

  Coloma City Commission observes a moment of silence to remember victims of courthouse shooting.

  Random drug screening adopted by Watervliet schools.

  Pokagon Band opens Tribal Village in Hartford.

  Bainbridge responds to Pipestone Lake parking concerns.

  Fantastic Watervliet Independence Weekend Celebration revisited; Wonderful weather shines on Watervliet fun-filled Independence Weekend Celebration.

  Glad-Peach baking contest rules announced.

  Watervliet School Board adopts annual budget.

  Burglar caught by Watervliet police.

  Watervliet Township will pay share of lake cleanup fee.

  Paw Paw River clearing project gains momentum; 62-mile water trail has 22 access points where paddlers can get on the river.

  Coloma Township Board puts Supervisor on North Berrien Fire Board to aid with reorganization.

  Watervliet Township Supervisor applauds Lake Cleanup Committee work following comments at public hearing.

  I’m proud of our law enforcement, Hinkelman tells Watervliet Commission in the wake of courthouse shootings.

  Prosecutor lists criminal record of courthouse shooter.

  August 2 Primary Election preview; Tri-City Area candidates and issues profiled.

  Term limits open up two State Representative seats in Berrien and Van Buren counties.

  Van Buren County Judge seat open; three candidates running for office.

  Merchants offer special preview to upcoming Glad-Peach Festival.

  Courtroom killer was classroom volunteer at Watervliet Schools; Board of Education moves to increase record checking for convicted criminals.

  Watervliet Commissioners and management company trade concerns at city manager evaluation meeting.

August

  LaGrow Consulting resigns as Watervliet City Manager, claims Mayor is being investigated by the State Police; City Hall positions realigned

LaGrow Consulting submitted a letter of resignation to the Watervliet City Commission and at their Tuesday, August 9 regular meeting; the Commission accepted that letter.  Neither Cindy LaGrow nor Emilie Sarratore was present at the meeting.  A special meeting that was scheduled to occur at 5:00 p.m. for a continuation of the city management review was canceled due to conflicts in their schedule.

In the letter authored by Cynthia LaGrow she states, “LaGrow Consulting has concluded that our core values are not aligned with the dysfunctional culture and constant unprofessionalism displayed within the City of Watervliet.  It is time for us to move on as it is clear we can no longer perform our job in the high standard with which we pride ourselves.”

The letter stated that per their contract, their last day would be August 31, 2016.  Following the City Commission acceptance of the letter, they had to determine whether they would have them finish that time in their daily role of city management or just pay out the 30 days of the contract.

With Commissioner Duane Cobb absent, it was approved with a vote of 4 to 1 to pay out the contract.  Deah Muth, Rick Kinzler, Melanie Marvin and Dan Hummel voted in favor of the payout with Barb Schofield voting no.

LaGrow’s letter notes office politics, unprofessionalism and illegality as some of the bigger obstacles that they faced in their job.  She states that the first eight months that they were in the city management position, they were allowed to do their job as provided in the job description, contract and per the employee handbook.

“We were able to accomplish many great things for the City with the support of the Commission,” LaGrow stated in the letter.  She writes that in May of this year the Mayor began to have a more active role and started to take control over many issues with Commission support.

LaGrow states in her letter that it was in November of 2014 when the Commission took action to limit the Mayor’s powers, prompting an investigation into the Mayor’s activities, including the improper use of city funds and/or malfeasance.  LaGrow stated that this led to an ongoing investigation by the Michigan State Police, an investigation that they state continues.

Other headlines for August

  Bainbridge WWII Memorial Dedication is set for 1 p.m. Saturday, August 20.

  Big C Lumber meets all the contractor and homeowner needs.

  Paw Paw Lake ‘fun’ facts… 952 acres and 90 foot deep make the lake one of the largest and deepest in Southwestern Michigan.

  Berrien County Youth Fair opens Monday.

  Local election results: Voters approve millages and pick trustees in August 2 Primary; nominate party candidates for general election in November.

  Ken Parrigin, Coloma Charter Township Supervisor has been selected to lead the 49th Annual Glad-Peach Parade as the Grand Marshal.

   Coloma City Commission happy with recent Glad-Peach Festival; Glad-Peach Festival saw great weather and awesome attendance.

  Paw Paw Lake Foundation and Association sponsor new sediment basin to aid in lake cleanup efforts.

  DiMaggio’s… this family business going strong for nearly 60 years.

  Fire millage renewal for 2017-2020 approved by Hartford City Council.

  Free well water testing for Van Buren County residents during August.

  Hartford man killed in accident at Watervliet Industrial Park; Fellow worker injured as scaffolding collapses.

  School will open on time, but not cafeteria, Watervliet Board of Education hears.

  Coloma Mason, Fred Munchow, was honored for his 70-year membership.

  Elisabeth Fellows, a former Miss Watervliet, adds another title, Miss Southwest Michigan.

  Lakeland Health Board of Directors approve investment in $160 million facility.

  Community prayer vigil for Michigan Law Enforcement.

  Coloma Township to buy heavy body armor for police.

  Modern Mothers Club of Hartford turns 50.

  Grace Christian School opens for new year, August 29.

  Schools ready for September 6 opener.

  Hartford Public Schools plans “Back to School Bash” to start new year.

  Coloma Schools new school year; single bus routes, new start times.

  Watervliet Public Schools return to books, busses, and construction on September 6

  WWII Veterans Monument dedicated at Bainbridge Township Hall with three of the four living veterans present.

  Watervliet City Manager in full gear; Mayor voting privileges re-instated.

  Berrien County Youth Fair comes to soggy end; Local kids bring home BCYF ribbons and trophies.

  Flooding and safety concerns raised over Coloma Family Dollar construction project.

  DNR advises Paw Paw River cleanup crew that wood debris is good for river.

September

  Michigan Court of Appeals overturns Training Facility ruling that allowed Gun Range use by Sheriff deputies.

Berrien County Sheriff’s deputies training at a shooting range on Angling Road in Coloma Township has once again been halted following a September 6 ruling from the State of Michigan Court of Appeals.  This follows a long standing battle in the courts pitting Coloma Charter Township and a group of business people and residents of the nearby area against Berrien County following their construction and use of shooting ranges used for the purpose of training police officers.

Berrien County built and established a training facility in 2005 for the purpose of providing a place for Berrien County Sheriff’s Department members to obtain the required annual training with firearms.  They did so without obtaining local permitting through the township, citing the County Commissioner Act.

A group of local citizens took the case all the way to the Michigan Supreme Court where in 2008 it was ordered that the facility be closed down and that Berrien County should have sought local approval.  The Supreme Court ruled that while the county had the authority under the act to construct a building without local zoning approval it did not extend to the outside activities of shooting at the four shooting ranges.

Without success, Berrien County applied for a special land use permit through Coloma Township in 2010 and after many years, was not approved.  Sheriff’s Department officials trained at the Coloma Rod and Gun Club in the meantime.

In the fall of 2013, Berrien County erected a three-sided building on the end of one of the ranges.  The building houses the shooters while they are training.  They then began training once again out of this building.

Efforts gained energy again in the court system by Coloma Township and the group of private citizens that took Berrien County to court previously, to stop Berrien County again.

In October 2014 then Berrien County Trial Judge John Dewane (since retired) issued an opinion which allowed the Berrien County Sheriff and his deputies to use one shooting range for training.  That order modified a 2008 permanent injunction that prevented shooting at any of the ranges at the facility.

It was discovered through new court filings of the permanent injunction there had been confusion and once they were aware of it, the shooting from the building ceases again.

In January 2014, Dewane approved limited firearms training from the shooting building, partially modifying the 2008 permanent injunction.  The request by Coloma Township to declare that the 2013 shooting building violated the township zoning ordinance was denied by Dewane.

Also in Dewane’s ruling he declared the structure put up was a county building with its purpose being to house the shooters and that does fall under the authorities described in the County Commissioner Act.  In a 2-1 ruling the Court of Appeals reversed the Berrien County Trial Court’s orders to the extent that it ruled that the county could operate the shooting range under the authority of the County Commissioners Act and they also reversed the modification to the injunction that had been put in place previously.

Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey announced that he was suspending any further shooting at the Berrien County Training Facility until further direction from the Circuit Court or any result from a possible appeal.  In October of this year, Coloma Township Attorney Scott Dienes told the Board that the County has now filed a leave with the Supreme Court which basically asks the court for permission to have the case heard.  Dienes said that the Court grants leave to less than 5%.

Other headlines for September

  Coloma City Commission hears of dumpster war.

  Interim City Manager working at top notch pace to improve Watervliet City.

  Hartford Fire Prevention week activities announced.

  Hagar Township moves to resolve Vitale Market zoning legal issues; Township wins appeal over long time demolition case.

  Hagar Township considers kayak launch on Paw Paw River.

  Watervliet Schools Superintendent and staff sing praises of custodians as school opens on time amidst ongoing construction work.

  Sieg Freitag, local hero, retires.

  Kelsey Griffith; Last year as a Berrien County Youth Fair exhibitor

  Pokagon Band Pow Wow to take place on Labor Day weekend.

  Antique Engine and Tractor Show, September 8-11.

  Watervliet Township approves final step in Paw Paw Lake cleanup continuation.

  Work to clear major log jams in the Paw Paw River between Coloma and Watervliet began Tuesday at the former paper mill site.

  City office candidates file to be on ballot.

  Patriot Day Service Friday in Watervliet.

  First annual Hartford Back to School Bash was a smash!

  Keeler Township renews cleanup assessments for Little and Big Crooked lakes.

  Search for North Berrien Fire Chief begins.

  Watervliet advertising for full-time city manager.

  New executive Director hired at North Berrien Historical Museum.

  Good Samaritan Law expansion should be signed by the Governor soon.

  Watervliet District Library appoints Sharon Crotser-Toy to be new Director.

  Coloma Schools puts new strategic plan to work.

  Bainbridge Township board hears LMC millage proposal to pay for security improvements and facility upgrades to all three campuses.

  Hartford Motor Speedway breaking and entering suspects wanted.

  Watervliet City Commissioner seeks self-funded festivals; nearby communities have different options to support events.

  Watervliet offers part-time City Clerk and Deputy Clerk full-time jobs.

  Watervliet City Commission renews shared services with township; turns chronic flooding problem over to County Drain Commissioner.

  Watervliet Township Board votes for public road.

  Hartford elementary schools plan for 6th annual Healthy Hike fundraiser.

  Illegal dumping and decaying sewers get attention of Hartford City Council.

October

  Three interview for Watervliet City Manager Job, with no clear winner; Commissioners want to offer post to interim manager Bill Hodge.

Daniel Antosik was first of three candidates to interview for the Watervliet City Manager position at a special meeting. Antosik, from Adrian, is a recent Wayne State graduate with a master’s degree in public administration.

He told the City Commissioners he had recently interned at the City of Royal Oak, a suburb of Detroit.  He was also an intern for the Michigan Municipal League and also worked at a Ford Motor Truck Plant.  What he lacked in experience, he said he would make up with 100% work ethic and a willingness to learn.

He readily admitted he had no budget background or finance experience but would learn the programs needed for the job.  He listed his strengths as the ability to lead and work with people and resolve conflicts.

When asked what he could bring to the job that others would not, Antosik said “I don’t lose my cool in a crisis; I have a work ethic that is second to none and I’m thorough.” At the end of the interview he said, “I realize my little experience is on your minds, I wouldn’t worry too much; I will put in absolutely 100% of my time on the job.”

Kevin Gillette, who served as the City Manager from 2006-2007 was the second candidate interviewed.  Gillette was also the manager for the Village of Cassopolis.  He holds a degree in public administration and a secondary teaching certificate.

Gillette is currently working as a substitute teacher, at a funeral home and at a winery.  He states that his degree in public administration and his experience as both elected and appointed positions make him qualified for the position of City Manager.

He told the Commission that he would like the opportunity to serve the City of Watervliet again and for a longer period of time.  He described his in depth experience with Act 51, union negotiations, policy writing, and municipal finance when asked about it during the interview.  He also noted that he has experience in every category of grant writing with the exception of public health.  “I have extensive grant experience,” Gillette said.

Gillette said that he has previous experience as a City Manager and that is what he can bring to the position that others may not.  He noted that he was successful the year that he was in the position and that he knows enough about Watervliet that he could just jump in and get going.

Heath Kaplan was the third and final candidate to be interviewed.  He has a master’s degree in public administration and his resume describes his strengths as finance, accounting, operations, staff leadership, communications, project management, budgets, grant coordination, and financial modeling among others.

He is currently doing temporary consulting and temporary work, which he has been doing since he left his management position with the City of Poplar Bluff, Missouri.  He was in that position for a year.  He also served as a Finance Director for Muskegon County (2010-2014), City Manager for Crandall, Texas (2008-2010), and an Assistant Manager/Finance Director for the City of Wayland (2004-2006).  Between the years of 2004-2006, he lists professional services for three different villages, an interim position with a city and an intern position for a city.

He said he and his family would like to settle down in one place for 20 years.  He explained that while some might look at his resume and say that he job hopped and to that he says, “I wouldn’t have this experience if I hadn’t.”

Upon Kaplan’s departure from City Hall, Mayor Dave Brinker said that the City’s attorney ran credit, criminal, and sex offender reports and all came back without hardly anything flagged.  The Herald Palladium reported last week that Kaplan is under investigation at two of his last employers and that forensic audits are being done in response to actions he took when employed.

Mlive reported that Muskegon County is suing Kaplan alleging that he breached his administrative responsibilities and was involved in a conspiracy with a vendor.  The Southeast Missourian reported that while in the role of management for Poplar Bluff, Kaplan was paid off to leave.

A discussion was held after the interviews and a brief conversation was held about the possibility of hiring Bill Hodge, currently the interim City Manager, as the full time Manager.  Mayor Brinker said he would look for motions to select the City Manager at their next regular scheduled meeting.

A week of thought later, there was no decision on hiring a manager.  The City Commission has deferred a decision on selecting a City manager until further discussions are held with its interim manager, Bill Hodge.  The Commission took the action at their regular meeting.

Another week later Watervliet held a second interview with one city manager candidate, Antosik.  Daniel Antosik was the only one of three candidates that was called back for another round at a special meeting.  This follows a letter from Interim City Manager Bill Hodge to the City Commission that stated he would not be interested in the job on a permanent basis.

Antosik told the City Commission that he had a second interview scheduled the following Friday for another position.  He said it would be 3-4 weeks before he could give an answer if he was offered the job.  A discussion was held after Antosik’s departure and a motion was made and supported to offer the job to Antosik at a salary of $55,000.  The motion carried with all yes votes except Hummel.  Commissioner Schofield was absent.  In November Antosik turned down the offer.  City Commissioner Deah Muth was made interim manager as the search for candidates continue.

Other headlines for October

  Coloma High School Band marches to awards.

  Territorial Road work still not done; detour will run to spring Millburg residents note detour hurts businesses.

  Watervliet County Park $300,000 grant application receives good score.

  Paw Paw River cleanup work continues; volunteer group meets Saturday at 9 a.m.

  Keeler Township sets November 1, public hearing date for lake cleanup projects.

  Expanded Good Samaritan Law signed by Governor Snyder; Original law was sparked by drug overdose of Watervliet youth.

  Walter and Eleanor Klug celebrate 70th wedding anniversary.

  Coloma to research better options for street lights; East St. Joseph Street road work will go through May.

  Spaghetti Dinner Benefit planned for 8-year-old Zoe Phillips from Hartford, who has cancer.

  Preliminary student count day good for Coloma Schools, Board told; Business Manager quits, annual audit report deadline extended by State.

  Hagar voters asked to restore Headlee Rollback and LMC millage at November 8 election.

  Watervliet High School Homecoming Royalty crowned.

  Chili Hop at Watervliet Airport.

  Halloween hours and events for the Tri-City Area.

  Unbeaten Hartford High School Soccer Team is SAC Champion.

  Hartford Township donates funds to support Christmas in Hartford Celebration in City’s Ely Park.

  Hartford City Council continues discussions regarding building conditions on Main Street.

  Bainbridge trustees discuss Territorial Road culvert project; Supervisor Jollay does not expect work to be done in spring.

  Watervliet Township Board continues with property acquisition for soccer complex development.

  Hartford Board of Education discusses county-wide plan for balanced calendar, equals shorter summer vacation.

  Curious tale of The Township Traveler; Mysterious benefactor drops off notes and cash.

  Watervliet City Commission takes action for employee recognition holiday event; newly appointed City Treasurer resigns.

  Power of Pink displayed at the Watervliet Post Office.

  Lakeland Health breaks ground on $160 million medical pavilion expansion at hospital in St. Joseph.

  Hartford City Council agrees on next steps to fix wastewater treatment plant.

  City of Coloma sets City Hall holiday hours.

  Annual Veterans Day breakfast at Coloma High School.

November

  Watervliet Township given update on state grant projections; Lane Automotive investing $17 million and created 41 jobs so far in expansion.

  The Watervliet Township Board held a public hearing at their November 21 meeting to get an update on the Lane Automotive CDBG Grant. Cindy LaGrow, Economic Development Consultant and Certified Grant Administrator reminded the Board and the public that the State of Michigan and Watervliet Township helped make the grant available in 2014.

Lane Automotive promised a large invested expansion and the creation of 138 jobs over a period of time.  LaGrow reported that as of August they have created 41 jobs and invested over $17 million dollars.  They employ 259 employees so far, and per the grant agreement they pay their employees at least $18 an hour; however, LaGrow said the average wage is $23.15 per hour.

Lane Automotive has spent $908,000 in training of the new 41 employees, training costs of which $533,344 will be reimbursed because they have met all of the milestones so far.  Lane will continue to invest more funds and will create 51 more jobs by August 2017 to complete all the requirements. LaGrow said another public hearing will be held at the conclusion of that milestone.

Clerk Pat Bambrick confirmed that the Township has now received re-imbursement for all costs incurred.

LaGrow reminded the Board that they had been in competition with the State of Tennessee for this project but with the help of the State of Michigan’s grant program and Watervliet Township’s partnership, Lane Automotive invested in this area and its residents.  There were no questions by either the Board or the public during the public hearing.

With the completion of the public hearing the Township had some documentation that had to be approved to comply with what is required of them by the grant. Because the CDBG covers Fair Housing, the Township had to put a Fair Housing Ordinance in place.  At this time the first reading of the ordinance was held.

The Board also updated their procurement policy and equal opportunity employment policy to be more in line with what was required by the state.  The Board also approved an ADA self evaluation sheet.  The State of Michigan will be coming to the Township Hall in December to review the grant file and to ensure compliance.

Other headlines for November

  November 8 general election ballot includes many local candidates and issues.

  Comet Spikers are SAC Champs!

  Halloween in Coloma was a great success.

  Watervliet sidewalks jammed Friday for annual Sidewalk Costume Parade.

  Keeler Township renews special assessments for Keeler and Round Lakes.

  Donald Trump wins, president-elect urges Americans to come together as united people.

  Local election results.

  Share your blessings; help the Tri-City Angel help others.

  Watervliet Home Town Christmas Celebration Sunday, December 4.

  Watervliet Snow Prince and Princess voting underway for 29 contestants.

  JnK Gift Shop off to a great start.

  Family Dollar celebrates new store opening in Coloma.

  Berrien County Sheriff’s Victim Services Unit named unit of the year.

  Local veterans honored; 41st annual Veterans Day program at Coloma Community Schools.

  Warm coats donated to Tri-City Angel; Angel Tree coming soon.

  City of Coloma to look at burning ordinance to allow for permitted land clearing similar to Township’s law.

  Bainbridge Township Supervisor Jerry Jollay retires with 12 years in office and more than 30 years of community service.

  Alternate ideas for proposed Watervliet County Park to be presented to DDA, Dec.7; Western students develop mill site market study.

  Hartford Township considers paying salary of Sheriff’s Deputy.

  Re-elected Hagar Township Supervisor DiMaggio thanks voters for support at Monday’s board meeting.

  Watervliet solar plant now online, more than 50,000 panels generate power for 650 homes annually.

  Coloma School Board told of great parent turn-out for conferences.

  “Bill” Hodge sworn in as new Bainbridge Township Supervisor.

  Bainbridge Township Board sworn in; Jollay presides over last meeting.

  Tri-City Record Thanksgiving Turkey winners for 2016 announced.

  Watervliet School Board adopts resolution of condolence for Joan Banasik; South School sets blood drive date.

  Navy and the Cubs; Small town kid comes of age.

December

  Palisades Power Plant to shut down permanently on October 1, 2018. 

  Big impact on local and state economy… The Palisades plant has 600 employees and generates about $57 million in payroll and benefits, plus $12 million annually in state and local taxes.

The Entergy Corporation and Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest utility and the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy have agreed to an early termination of their power purchase agreement (PPA) for the Palisades Power Plant in Covert Township.

The agreement is subject to regulatory approvals.  Separately, and assuming approvals are obtained for the PPA termination, Entergy intends to shut down the Palisades nuclear power plant permanently on October 1, 2018.

The original agreement committed Consumers Energy to purchase nearly all of the power that Palisades generates through April 2011.  Under the current plan, and assuming regulatory approval, Palisades will be refueled as scheduled in the spring of 2017 and operate through the end of the fuel cycle, then permanently shut down on October 1, 2018.

Bill Mohl, president of Entergy Wholesale Commodities said it is a financial decision.  They determined that a shutdown in 2018 is prudent when comparing the transaction to the business risks of continued operation.  An early shutdown is also consistent with their strategy to focus on the growth of their utility business while managing risk and reducing the footprint of their merchant power generation.

Mohl said the 600 workers will have a job until 2018 when half will be let go.  The other 300 will remain at the plant for another 15 months, at which time half of them will be dismissed.  That will leave the remaining 150 workers exiting the business nationally.

Entergy will provide assistance to employees who want to relocate within Entergy or leave the company.  Consumers has committed to work closely with Entergy and will consider potential placement of up to 180 appropriately skilled employees from Palisades into the utility’s workforce over time.

Communications Specialist for Entergy, Val Gent stated that after closure, the plant will be decommissioned.  The decommissioning process is defined by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  The initial activities involve extensive planning to safely and efficiently decommission the station and terminate the station license.

Activities include removing the plant from service, transferring used fuel to safe storage (spent fuel pool or dry cask storage), removing any residual radioactivity, and restoring the site, such as the removal of structures, and possible re-grading and reseeding of the land.

The used fuel will remain secured on site, under guard, monitored during shutdown and decommissioning activities, and subject to the NRC’s oversight until it is removed by the federal Department of Energy in accordance with its legal obligation.

The loss of local funding will impact the community in a ripple effect.  Palisades pays about $12 million annually in state and local taxes.  This includes property taxes, income taxes paid to the state and sales tax paid to the state.  They also pay approximately $67 million in annual wages and benefits for the 600 employees.

Gent said that to support the community during the transition, Entergy and the Consumers Energy Foundation will provide a total of $10 million in economic development funding over the next several years for the Southwest Michigan region.

Local opinion is surprised, hopeful, and cautious.  “Entergy has always been a good neighbor to us,” Covert Township Supervisor Dennis Palgen said.  “I don’t expect any difference now in how they treat us.  I think we need to let the dust settle a little before we can see clearly ahead.”

Other headlines for December

  Hometown Holiday Happenings Christmas and Santa events listed for sharing and fun.

  Hartford Board of Education discusses forming new athletic conference.

  Mill site market study presentation is Wednesday at Watervliet.

  Committee appointments made at the Coloma City Commission meeting.

  Craft Fair fundraiser for Amanda Goss, December 3.

  At least 7 fires were reported over the holiday weekend in the Tri-City Area.

  Samantha Scott crowned Miss Teen in Coloma.

  Hometown Christmas brings snowfall and people to Watervliet to welcome Santa.

  Santa Claus comes to Coloma!

  Keeler Township passes ordinance to control blight; purchases former Keeler Keg lots for township hall expansion and parking.

  Hartford City Council continues to discuss wastewater plant fixes.

  Arclight Brewery wins gold medal for cherry sour creation.

  Hartford Community Blossomtime Pageant is Sunday.

  10 young women seek Miss Watervliet 2017 crown, contest is set for January 14.

  Local clerks prepare for election recount even as courts consider appeals.

  County lands $296,000 DNR grant for Phase 1 of planned Watervliet County Park.

  WMU students present a vision for the “Biggest Little City” to Watervliet DDA; proposals include plans for mill site and a downtown “Cork & Brew Museum.”

  Bill Hodge takes over the Bainbridge Township Supervisor seat with ease.

  Watervliet City commended on fund balance; Audit good.

  Mariel Hallgren crowned Miss Hartford; Hunter Ackerman named Mr. Hartford.

  Coloma Watervliet Chamber of Commerce awards members for service.

  Decision to pay volunteer rescinded by City of Coloma; St. Joseph Street will remain closed the entire winter.

  Watervliet Township will donate $23,500 to City skate park rehab and $20,000 to School Resource Officer program.

  Coloma Township Board applauds outgoing treasurer; Bullet-proof glass to be installed at the Township.

  Coloma School District seeking board member.

  Roxanne Rodney-Isbrecht, Hartford City Clerk awarded Certified Michigan Municipal Clerk designation.

  Representative Nesbitt urges public service commission to reject Palisades’ plant closing.

  Outgoing Watervliet School Board Trustee Tim Lynch recognized by fellow members.

  Hartford Township works to clean up blight for year end.

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